Why does BloodhoundRealty.com not require registration to use our MLS search? It’s a matter of morality — but the moral is the practical

The issue of whether or not to require registration to gain access to MLS search came up at BloodhoundBlog.com, our national real estate industry weblog. This is a topic about which reasonable people can differ, but we have very strong moral reasons for making MLS search freely available. But, as always, the moral is the practical: Behaving the way we do tends to attract precisely the kinds of clients we want to do business with — and for whom we can achieve the best results. The world runs by itself.

This is my take on the issue, quoted from the comments at BloodhoundBlog:

We don’t ask visitors to register for IDX search. We are having our second best year ever, and we should finish the year — having started with five months of near-drought — in the top 1% of income-earners — “the rich.” I have zero data to support my position, because I haven’t collected any, but I believe that much of our recent success owes to the FlexMLS IDX system and our deployment of it. But, even so, we have never insisted upon registration and we never will, for the simple reason that I am not going to treat guests in my home as prey, not now, not ever. Your mileage may vary, and I don’t care, but everything in our lives is philosophy first, and we do not change the way we behave until we have become convinced that our past position was morally wrong. That will not happen in this circumstance.

I would have to go and do the math on self-selected Flex registrants (we register a lot of people who come to us by other means on the site — emails, form responses or phone calls, etc.), but my guess is that we’re skinning cats with one out of three, perhaps more than that. The people we work with tend to repeat, to refer or to become full-blown sneezers, so we know that our overall approach to the people we work with is effective. In any case, I have zero desire to have 24 phone conversations to unearth the one motivated buyer or seller in a double-dozen “leads.” I expect I could do better making random phone calls or handing out business cards at the Circle-K.

I spoke about this at the first BloodhoundBlog Unchained. Everything we do for marketing is devised to get our ideal clients to firmly self-select for us before they ever do anything to make contact. I had a relo form like that today. The form came in at 6:18 am — the prospect is in the midwest. I had a walk-through with an investor, so I didn’t call him until noon. He had found us and stopped shopping. He hadn’t talked to anyone else in the six hours I left available to him. And he thanked me several times, first, for not insisting upon registration, and, second, for not dumbing the IDX system down. In fact, we configured our installation of MLS search to be much more robust than ordinary real estate sites, but we love it — and our clients love it — because we can make it so much more rigorous than ordinary IDX sites.

We target-market for high-Ds and high-Cs — thoughtful, prosperous people who don’t intend to be jerked around. Not jerking them around seems to be a very effective marketing strategy. When we finally add a high-C of our own to our team, we can start to make a stats-based argument. But it won’t make any difference to me. We do business the way we do because we believe it is the right way to do business — in every detail. We have never betrayed our principles for money, and we never will.

When you search the Phoenix-area MLS system on our site, you are using exactly the same tools we are using, from exactly the same database. We give you the most robust search we can, because if a central vacuum system or a heated pool matter to you, then they matter.

But if you want to search the MLS here and then work with another Realtor, feel free. We know we deliver better value to our clients, but we also know that that value proposition only appeals to people who are actively seeking better value. If any old Realtor will do, in your view, then we’re probably not the Realtors for you. The world runs by itself.

But if you have not yet played with our MLS search, dig in. In forthcoming posts, I’ll talk about how to use the logic of the system to pull out some amazing results. But the FlexMLS software is amazing right out of the box. If you take the time to play with it, you’ll never search anywhere else — no matter who your Realtor is.

And if you should start to wonder why other Realtors provide a clunky, dumbed-down MLS search — and have the nerve to ask you to register for the privilege of slogging through it — give us a call. We do everything better, not just MLS search.

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